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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Study of the hip adolescent, his family and the generation gap Beckman, Lanning Jay


The present study was designed to explore 1) the personality and attitude structures of adolescents belonging to the hip or underground subculture; 2) the family constellations within which these structures evolve; and 3) the evidence for and against the existence of the “generation gap." Several correlated indices of “hipness" were utilized to select 49 hip and 44 nonhip male, adolescent subjects. More than 80 percent of the subjects' parents also participated in the study. An extensive battery of personality, attitude and demographic questionnaires was administered to all subjects. The data revealed large, significant differences between hip and nonhip adolescent subjects on 14 of the 18 major variables measured in the study. Relative to their nonhip counterparts, the hip subjects scored significantly higher on the following variables: Thinking Introversion; Theoretical Orientation; Estheticism; Cognitive Complexity; Autonomy; Liberal Religious Orientation; Impulse Expression; Altruism; Liberal Attitudes Toward Children's Freedom; Women's Freedom; and Sexual Freedom. The hip subjects scored significantly lower on: Personal Integration; Practical Outlook; and Masculinity. The hip personality profile revealed in the findings was compared and contrasted with the profiles of other alienated groups, namely, radical activists and the Beats of the late Fifties. Particular attention was paid to the historical changes which have transpired in the Bohemian personality during the past decade. While hip and nonhip sons differed significantly on 14 of the 18 major variables, their parent's personality profiles appeared remarkably similar. Hip and nonhip fathers differed significantly on only two of the 18 variables (hip fathers were more permissive in their attitudes towards children's freedom and toward sexual freedom). Hip and nonhip mothers differed significantly on just one variable (hip mothers held more permissive sexual views). Irrespective of significance levels, however, the group means indicated a strong trend for the small differences between hip and nonhip parents to mirror in direction the large differences between their respective sons. On 16 of the 18 variables, both hip parents scored in the same direction relative to their nonhip counterparts as did their sons relative to the nonhip sons. The hypothesis was discussed that both the smallness and consistency of these parental differences are instrumental in the development of hip or nonhip values among adolescents. While the differences between hip adolescents and their parents was found to be considerably greater than the differences between nonhip adolescents and their parents, the data indicated strong support for a generation gap hypothesis. On 9 of the 18 variables, nonhip sons differed significantly from both parents in the same direction that hip sons differed significantly from theirs. Relative to their fathers and mothers, both son groups displayed: more complex cognitive orientations; greater impulse expression; lower personal integration; higher anxiety; lower altruism: lower response bias; a more cynical attitude toward people in general; and more liberal views regarding children's freedom and sexual freedom. The generation gap, as characterized by the foregoing cluster of traits, was discussed from a psycho-historical perspective, and predictions were entertained regarding the probable future of generational relations.

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